Energy allocation during concurrent pregnancy and lactation in Norway rats with delayed and undelayed implantation

J Exp Zool. 1987 Mar;241(3):343-57. doi: 10.1002/jez.1402410310.


Despite the high cost of lactation alone, concurrent pregnancy and lactation (CPL) is widespread among rodents. Many species that exhibit CPL delay implantation of the litter in utero while nursing. The first purpose of this study was to describe the pattern of energy allocation during CPL in a species with a large degree of overlap between gestation and lactation. Resting metabolic rate, food consumption and mass changes of Norway rat dams and litters, digestive efficiency and urinary energy loss of dams, and pup tissue energy equivalents were determined for CPL dams and for dams that were only lactating (C). CPL dams had significantly higher metabolic rates than C dams. Food consumption, pup growth, tissue energy equivalents, and assimilation efficiency were similar for both groups. The energy equivalent of mass change was greater for C dams, which gained in maternal mass (lipid) during lactation, than for CPL dams, which only increased in mass because of the litter in utero. The second purpose of this study was to investigate the suggestion that delayed implantation during CPL evolved as a mechanism to lower peak energy demands during CPL. Concurrently pregnant and lactating dams were injected with estrone (ECPL dams) on days 3-16 of lactation to prevent them from delaying implantation. A group of dams that were only lactating also received estrone injections (EC dams). ECPL dams produced smaller offspring at weaning than EC dams.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryo Implantation*
  • Embryo Implantation, Delayed
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal / metabolism*
  • Rats